The National Union of Farmers (NFU) in the UK is calling for a review of trading standards laws over the use of what is said are “fake farms” created by major retailers to market some food products.
The NFU said today (18 July) that its members had expressed concern that the practice “can be misleading for shoppers resulting in them being at risk of mistakenly buying a product that differs from the product they thought they were buying”.
In highlighting its concerns, the NFU cited “the most recent and high profile example” by Tesco of its introduction of brand names such as “Woodside Farms” and “Boswell Farms”.
NFU president Meurig Raymond said the union’s legal advisers had considered the issue and the NFU has now written to the UK’s National Trading Standards body “to look at whether fake farm branding complies with the relevant legal requirements”. The NFU said it is calling for “clear guidelines for retailers on the clarity of country of origin labelling”.
Raymond said: “I have spoken to senior management at Tesco to highlight our members’ concerns about the use of these fake farm brands. I urge all retailers to consider seriously the results of our survey which show that mixing imported product with British product under the same fictional farm name can be misleading to many of their customers. I am pleased that Aldi has now made a commitment to only source British product in their fictional farm brands by the end of March 2017.”
Raymond said: “British farming is proud of its high standards and the NFU would be delighted to work with retailers to ensure that customers are given clear and unambiguous information about where their food comes from”.
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According to the NFU, at least three in five respondents to a national survey it commissioned on the subject of the Tesco farm brand names “said these farm products in their view were ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ British (and) would feel misled if this was not the case and were told that the product could be from another country”.
Tesco said earlier this year the farm brands were among seven value-oriented own-label ranges in the UK, focusing on delivering “quality” in the produce, meat and poultry categories. The retailer said the lines would either match or beat its competitors on price as well as delivering a “new level” of quality in fresh. The brands would be sourced from a “range of trusted suppliers”, Tesco said.